Visiting Honolulu? Better get out of the habit of texting while walking, or at least while walking across a street. In a new law that took effect Wednesday, the Hawaiian city has banned looking at your phone (or any mobile electronic device) while crossing a street or highway. Anyone who does so in Honolulu or the surrounding county can be fined up to $35 for the first offense, the New York Times reports. Subsequent offenses will cost up to $75, and then up to $99. The exceptions: If you're communicating with 911 at the time, or if you're an emergency responder performing your official duties, TechCrunch reports. (Pedestrians can also still talk on phones or listen to music while crossing streets.) KHON notes the fines aren't just tickets to pay; offenders must appear in court.
Honolulu is the first major US city to pass such a law, NPR reports. Similar legislation has been considered, but not passed, in multiple states and is pending in two states. Municipal laws aren't officially tracked, but Rexburg, Idaho, banned the practice in 2011 after five pedestrian deaths were recorded in a short period of time in the small town. There have been no more pedestrian deaths since. Honolulu officials cite safety as the reason for their city's ban; experts say people who text while walking are almost four times as likely to engage in a dangerous behavior like jaywalking or not looking both ways before crossing a street, and they also take 18% more time to cross streets than those who aren't distracted by a device. (Read more Honolulu stories.)